Cooking with My Kiddos

Well, cooking with Timmy, to be exact. Vera mostly just toddles around the kitchen while we get our hands dirty. Someday soon we’ll all be cooking together in the kitchen and making a big, beautiful mess. For now Vera is happy tossing food around her play kitchen (which is in our kitchen). She’s begun to start “cooking” in her kitchen along with Tim and I- so adorable!

Timmy loves being “my little helper” in the kitchen. He always smiles as he drags a kitchen chair over to the island and climbs up to see what I’m making. He scoops and dumps ingredients into bowls, mixes and learns the names of new ingredients with such excitement. I even started giving him a plastic knife to cut up vegetables or butter toast. I love how much enjoyment he gets from cooking and baking right now and I’m doing my best to encourage his new interest.

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Timmy covered in flour and helping me bake muffins.

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Vera playing with flour while Timmy stirs.

It’s not difficult to get your kids involved in the kitchen! My first tip would be to spend time in the kitchen with your kids. Don’t just turn on a cartoon so you can get dinner going or cook while the kids nap. I’m guilty of doing both from time to time, but over the last few months I’ve made a real effort to involve the kids in the kitchen.

I’m a big believer in getting kids into the kitchen at a young age. Obviously babies can’t do much in the kitchen, but the kitchen is full of sensory experiences that can hold the attention of little ones. Let them play with food or bang on pots and pans with wooden spoons while you cook.

Once they’re toddlers, give them tools and utensils to play with and bowls to stir pretend ingredients. If you have a play kitchen and the room, move it into your kitchen. I fill my kids’ play kitchen with real food boxes, empty spice containers, my smallest pots and real utensils. Both of my kids play in their kitchen daily. Timmy makes me snacks each day. I love observing him pretend play.

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Older toddlers can be a real help in the kitchen. Toddlers can help dump ingredients into bowls and mix ingredients. There are toddler safe knives- don’t be afraid to let your older toddlers use them. With a little supervision, they can help chop spinach or cut pepper strips into bite size pieces. Once a week, I make pizza with Timmy. He loves adding the sauce, grated cheese and toppings to our homemade pizza dough.

Cooking with your kids is also a great way to incorporate early math into your everyday lives. Timmy likes to count as he sorts and adds ingredients. I would imagine as he gets older, it will be a good way to introduce measurements and fractions.

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Making pizza!

I think what prevents most people from getting their young children involved in the kitchen is the mess that is sure to result. Embrace it. If they’re not making a mess in your kitchen, it’ll be in your living room. And everything is wipeable in the kitchen.

How do you get your young children involved in the kitchen? I’d love to hear from you!

A Magnetic Board for the Kids

My refrigerator was slowly being taken over by my kids’ magnets. It’s not that I mind a colorful fridge, but I wanted them to be able to play with their magnets in the playroom.

With just a quick trip to Lowe’s and use of a few supplies I had lying around the house, I had a magnetic board for the kids. I bought a galvanized steel flat sheet for just a few dollars in the ducting section of the store. The steel sheet was very flimsy and had incredibly sharp edges. To solve this problem, I cut a thick piece of poster board the same size as the metal sheet. After laying the sheet down on top of the poster board, I taped around the edges using white duct tape. I didn’t even need to secure the metal sheet to the poster board before taping them together. The finished board was so light, I just needed a few mounting strips to adhere it to the playroom wall securely. So simple. I’m sure you could cover the board with pretty fabric if you desired, but I think the board looks fine as it is.

Tim and Vera both love the board- it’s already provided hours of entertainment in the few short days it’s been hanging on the wall. Lately Timmy has been showing some interest in knowing how to spell words- mostly names of animals, names of characters from books we read and the names of his oodles of Thomas and Friends engines. (I know them all, I think!) We spend time each day spelling words together on the board, which is great because I know he would never be interested in doing this on paper. He also enjoys making, as he calls it, “a letter train”.

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Timmy’s “letter train”

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Timmy telling me that mouse begins with M!

I still would like to get some magnetic gears for the board. Vera loves to play with gears. I also want to make my own version of tangrams for my little ones- I’ll get some inexpensive sheets of craft foam, cut them into various tans and attach some magnetic tape to the back of them. Something like this. It would make a perfect rainy day activity for when the kids are napping, and living in Washington, there’s no shortage of those.